Tuesday, May 18, 2010

San Francisco Justice Summit

We interrupt this blog for its first totally-biased event endorsement:

2010 Public Defender's Justice Summit
Wednesday, May 19
San Francisco

According to the event organizers, the 2010 Justice Summit will examine ways to expose and prevent systemic failures of our justice system, an especially relevant topic in the wake of two law-enforcement misconduct scandals. The Summit, which is co-hosted by San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi, will feature "experts on wrongful conviction, prosecutorial misconduct, and media, along with bestselling authors, law professors, reporters, and celebrity attorneys [and one regular public defender]." The subject-matter is timely, according to Mr. Adachi, given a pair of scandals that rocked the justice system in San Francisco: A lab tech whose cocaine theft unmasked rampant evidence tampering at the Police Department crime lab and a revelation that prosecutors failed to disclose the criminal convictions and misconduct of more than 80 officers who testified in criminal prosecutions.

“There couldn’t be a better time to have a frank discussion about the every day injustices that make it difficult for ordinary citizens to get a fair shake,” Adachi said. “Our speakers will explore how to prevent systematic failures like the ones we’ve seen in San Francisco and discuss just how commonly these miscarriages of justice occur.”

In addition to recognizing and preventing “ordinary injustice” in the legal system, panels will focus on remaking the image of defense attorneys and statewide criminal record reform. Among the speakers are Amy Bach, attorney and bestselling author of Ordinary Injustice; Gerald Schwartzbach, whose high-profile cases included the murder acquittal of actor Robert Blake; Jami Floyd, former Court TV Anchor, John Terzano, co-founder of The Justice Project and expert on prosecutorial misconduct; and Dr. Stephen Richards, a former federal inmate-turned-law-professor devoted to re-entry issues.

The media image of criminal defense attorneys will be the subject of one panel discussion [and include one regular public defender panel member]. "While the portrayals of defense attorneys throughout time has ranged from positive--To Kill A Mockingbird, Perry Mason--to the extreme negative -- The Devil’s Advocate(as the devil incarnate) Shark (defense attorney turned prosecutor) and even the comedic -- My Cousin Vinny (the stuttering public defender)," according to the event organizers, "the media image of the defense attorneys continues to be a matter of controversy. This panel examines how and why defense attorneys are often depicted in a negative light, and what can be done to change this."

The materials for the event include depictions of defense attorneys in popular media:

And I have to say that the montage looks better with a defender-gal addition:

The free event, which is open to the public, will be held 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m. in the Koret Auditorium in San Francisco Main Library, on Wednesday May 19th. Find event details and speaker bios here. Seating is limited and all attendees must register at sfpublicdefender.org

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